Indian defence and weapons of mass destruction: NCA #Hindustan360


In 1999 India was estimated to have 800 kg of separated reactor-grade plutonium, with a total amount of 8300 kg of civilian plutonium, enough for approximately 1,000 nuclear weapons. View more at #Hindustan360.

India is not a signatory to the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which it argues entrenches the status quo of the existing nuclear weapons states whilst preventing general nuclear disarmament. India has signed and ratified the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention. India is also a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime and a subscribing state to the Hague Code of Conduct.

Biological weapons

India has a well-developed biotechnology infrastructure that includes numerous pharmaceutical production facilities and bio-containment laboratories (including BSL-3 and BSL-4) for working with lethal pathogens. It also has highly qualified scientists with expertise in infectious diseases. Some of India’s facilities are being used to support research and development for biological weapons (BW) defence purposes. India has ratified the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and pledges to abide by its obligations. There is no clear evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, that directly points toward an offensive BW program.

India does possess the scientific capability and infrastructure to launch an offensive BW program, but has chosen not to do so. In terms of delivery, India also possesses the capability to produce aerosols and has numerous potential delivery systems ranging from crop dusters to sophisticated ballistic missiles.

Chemical weapons

In 1992, India signed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), stating that it did not have chemical weapons and the capacity or intent to manufacture chemical weapons. By doing this India became one of the original signatories of the CWC in 1993, and ratified it on 2 September 1996. According to India’s ex-Army Chief General Sunderji, a country having the capability of making nuclear weapons does not need to have chemical weapons, since the dread of chemical weapons could be created only in those countries that do not have nuclear weapons

Nuclear weapons

India first tested a nuclear device in 1974 (code-named “Smiling Buddha”), under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, which it called a “peaceful nuclear explosion.” The test used plutonium produced in the Canadian-supplied CIRUS reactor, and raised concerns that nuclear technology supplied for peaceful purposes could be diverted to weapons purposes. This also stimulated the early work of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. India performed further nuclear tests in 1998 (code-named “Operation Shakti”). In 1998, as a response to the continuing tests, the United States and Japan imposed sanctions on India, which have since been lifted

Nuclear Triad

  • Land-based ballistic missiles
  • Air-based nuclear weapons
  • Sea-based ballistic missiles

Indian land-based nuclear-armed ballistic missiles

Name Type
range (km)
Prithvi-I   Short-range 150 Deployed
Prithvi-II   Short-range 250-350
Prithvi-III   Short-range 350-600
Agni-I Short to medium-range 700-1,250
Agni-II Medium-range 2,000-3,000
Agni-III Intermediate-range   3,500-5,000
Agni-IV Intermediate-range 4,000 Tested successfully
Agni-V Intermediate to Intercontinental-range 5,000-8,000
Agni-VI Submarine-launched with intercontinental-range (probable MIRV) 6,000~ Under development
Agni-VI Intercontinental-range (probable MIRV) 8,000-12,000 Under development
Surya Submarine launched Intercontinental-range MIRV 10,000~ Unconfirmed
Surya Intercontinental-range Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) 12,000-16,000 Unconfirmed

Indian sea-based nuclear-armed ballistic missiles

Name Type
range (km)
Dhanush Short-range 350 Inducted
Sagarika (K-15)   SLBM 700 Awaiting deployment on INS Arihant
K-4 SLBM 3,500 Tested

Nuclear Command Authority (India)

The Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) of India is the authority responsible for command, control and operational decisions regarding India’s nuclear weapons programme. The directives of the NCA are to be operationalised by the Strategic Forces Command under the control of a Commander-in-Chief of the rank of Air Marshal (or its equivalent) in charge of the management and administration of the tactical and strategic nuclear forces. The NCA may be seen as the first stage in the development of an effective and robust Command and Control (C2) and Indications-and-Warning (I&W) systems and infrastructure for its strategic nuclear forces.

View more at #Hindustan360.